I've SCOUTED LOTS OF RAPIDS ON LOTS OF RIVERS WITH LOTS OF KIDS.
It's one of my favorite parts of every GOALS expedition. Scouting big rapids can be exhilarating or intimidating. It can build fear or it can build confidence. All kids walk toward rapids on the scout trail with butterflies in their belly and questions in their mind. The way they feel when they walk back to the boats depends entirely on the plan we help them put into place.
It's about much more than just picking out the line.
Once we've decided how to best navigate the rapid, I tell each group this:
"There's a common theme in almost every flip, wrap, or other mishap in a rapid. The person controlling the boat panics and becomes fixated on an obstacle. At the same time, they stop paddling and the river pushes them directly toward it. To avoid that obstacle, you've got to look beyond it and paddle aggressively right on past.
You know where you want to go. You know you have the tools to get there. Believe that you can get past the obstacles in your way, and we'll be high-fiving on the other end."
it's time FOR US to walk the walk.
Building the OARLOCK program has been a significant "rapid" for GOALS to scout. At times, the process has been exhilarating; at other times intimidating. I've done my research, picked the line, and headed back to my boat with both the anniversary of Arlo's passing and Colorado Gives Day coming up right away downstream. Hands on oars. Butterflies in the belly.
We launched into the "Colorado Gives Day rapid" - looking to get past the only obstacle preventing us from an official OARLOCK launch. In its' first year, we must raise all the funds necessary to get this program off the ground - at least $12,000.
We're 2/3 of the way through the rapid - and there's a choice to make. We can stop paddling and surrender to the obstacle, or we can look beyond it and paddle aggressively right on past.
I know where I want this to go. I know we have the tools to get there. I believe that we can get past the obstacles in our way.
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
The OARLOCK award re-defines the role of our program leaders. When several young adults who have been through GOALS programs began expressing interest in coming back to help lead expeditions, the board of directors discussed the idea of "summer interns." This title seemed too ordinary for a group encouraging kids to over-exist - and my wheels started turning.
If GOALS is willing to pay a few "summer interns" $1,500 for a summer of leading younger students through our curriculum, how can that money be better utilized to create dynamic trailblazers who personify the lessons they've learned through GOALS? What would best motivate the children they're guiding to want one day to be just like these GOALS leaders? Once again..."summer intern" wasn't cutting it.
OARLOCK takes the best of the best; the kids who have stood out to their chaperons, their guides, and even their peers as the ones who bring the most to their programs. It's the Eagle Scout of GOALS. The Top Gun. Those who think they've got what it takes to be an OARLOCK award recipient will be nominated by at least one chaperon, one guide, and one of their peers. Winners will be selected by a committee. They'll be given the chance of a lifetime to explore a river and a culture outside of the United States - strengthening their sense of self and deepening their connection to the planet. Prior to the river season, they'll go through a professional guide school, and receive the skills needed to row their own boat on GOALS expeditions. They'll even wear a unique OARLOCK PFD supplied by GOALS supporter MTI Adventurewear as their badge of honor. In return, they'll commit to giving 30 days back to GOALS over the next 2 years - not as "summer interns", but rather as OARLOCK award winners. It sure feels like a much better way to invest $3000 for 2 years worth of GOALS program leadership to me.
The program will be self funded in subsequent years, but will require a significant initial fundraising push to get off the ground initially. We're 2/3 of the way there, and the calm water at the end of this rapid is in sight. If you haven't donated yet, please help us to look past the obstacle and paddle toward a giant high-five.
OUR ORIGINAL OARLOCK
On top of it all for me personally, the establishment of this program honors the legacy of Arlo Tejada - who made the crucial connection between my idea to get kids outdoors on wild rivers and his permit/gear resources as a co-owner of Sheri Griffith Expeditions. Cancer took Arlo from this world far too early in December 2014. While he is no longer present in body to support the next generation of river explorers, guides, and stewards - the OARLOCK award keeps his spirit alive as the recipients of this esteemed award given in his name personify Arlo's passions that lead him to be our "oarlock" in the first place.
Read more about Arlo and his vision that gave GOALS its' wings here.
For GOALS and the kids we serve; for deserving leaders longing to give back; for Arlo; and for the planet - I am fully committed to successfully navigating this rapid. Please give generously if you are so inclined - and share this page until the water calms.
Founder / Executive Director, GOALS ("Get Outside and Learn Something")
THE FAMILY OF GOALS SUPPORTERS WHO PROUDLY
ESTABLISHED THE OARLOCK AWARD INCLUDES:
Sally Korff Bergstedt
ARTA River Expeditions